The government led by Syriza in Greece, elected in January 2015, at first seemed to be the most radical European government in recent history. It proclaimed itself the “Government of Hope” and throughout the world symbolized the hope that radical change could be achieved through institutional politics. The referendum of July 2015 rejected the austerity imposed by the banks and the European Union but was followed by a complete reversal of the government’s position and its acceptance of that austerity.
The collapse of hope that accompanied the failure of the institutional Left opened the way to the return of the right-wing New Democracy Party, with a more aggressive program than ever. The essays collected in Beyond Crisis, among other things, form a case study of the “Greek experiment” that points to deeper implications concerning the global upsurge of disillusioned anger that has spurred the rise of far-right populism and support for strong leaders, exclusion of ethnic minorities, and greater “racial purity.”
The Syriza government’s dramatic crash showed the limits of institutional politics, a lesson apparently overlooked by the enthusiastic followers of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. But it also poses profound questions for those who reject state-centered politics. The anarchist or autonomist movement in Greece has been one of the strongest in the world, yet it has failed to have a significant impact in opening up alternative perspectives.
So how do we pick up the pieces? What direction should we follow from now on? How do we understand what happened and learn from it? The essays in this collection do not point to a single conclusion or path forward but rather raise questions that remain open about how to move beyond the current crisis amid a darkening sky of seeming impossibility.
What People Are Saying
“Beyond Crisis does not look on the bright side. It looks straight into the eye of the storm and unfolds the hopelessness of conventional left politics in Greece and how it became part of the unfolding cycle of state violence and austerity. And it unfolds the community of hope, its courage of resistance and negativity, that has come to fore in Greece, and elsewhere too, as the direct democracy of a society of the free and equal.” Werner Bonefeld, professor of politics, University of York, England
“With Jeremy Corbyn calling for a ‘new way of doing politics’ and offering hope to millions, the publication of this book about Greece’s erstwhile ‘Government of Hope’ is timely. The questions it asks are essential. How does rage, hope and optimism turn into to despair and depression? Why can’t the institutional Left break through the ‘Wall of Reality’? And, if not Syriza, Podemos or Corbyn’s Labour, then what?” David Harvie, The Free Association
“Beyond Crisis is a beautiful and unusually rewarding book. This extraordinary collection of essays combines theory with passion and impresses with its sweep and scope. Bursting with ideas and observations, with an ear for lyrical phrases, this highly original account of social struggles in Greece offers a fresh perspective on capitalism, resistance, and dignified life beyond crisis.” Andrej Grubacic, coauthor of Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History
“This book shows that the Greek crisis is testament of the impossibility of capital as a form of human society. Radical hope exists not in the abstract utopia of the party, but in the concrete utopias at the grassroots.” Ana Dinerstein, author of The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope
“This is not just one more book on the past, present and/or future dark aspects of economic crisis in Greece. It is not an analysis of ‘impossibility,’ but rather a courageous and challenging voice talking about something which is rarely mentioned in the political, economic, sociological, and anthropological discourses about crisis: hope!” Diana Riboli, professor of sociology, Panteion University, Athens
About the Editors
John Holloway is a professor of sociology at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades in the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico. He has published widely on Marxist theory, on the Zapatista movement, and on the new forms of anticapitalist struggle. His book Change the World without Taking Power has been translated into eleven languages and has stirred an international debate.
Katerina Nasioka is the coauthor of Gender and Journalism in Greece (2008) and author of Ciudades en Insurrección: Oaxaca 2006/Atenas 2008 (2017). She has also published articles in various journals on recent social struggles in Greece. Her research interests concern urban space, critical theory, and social insurrections.
Panagiotis Doulos teaches in the Department of Social Anthropology in the Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala. He completed his PhD studies in sociology at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades “Alfonso Vélez Pliego” of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) in Mexico. His research interests concern issues of violence, social movements, and critical theory.